Alumnus Publishes Heat Engine Design In Nature
Massachusetts Institute of Technology mechanical engineering professor Asegun Henry, 2005-2009 Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF) recpient, led a team of MIT and National Renewable Energy Laboratory engineers that designed an engine that converts heat to electricity with greater than 40% efficiency, surpassing steam turbines, the traditional power-conversion method. The device is a thermophotovoltaic cell, and, like the solar panel cells, the 1 cm-by-1 cm device captures high-energy photons and converts them to electricity. Once integrated into a larger storage device, this type of thermal battery could absorb and store renewable energy, banking it for later use.
“This is an absolutely critical step on the path to proliferate renewable energy and get to a fully decarbonized grid,” Henry says, in an MIT News article.
You can also hear more from Henry about this work on season 1/episode 5 of the Krell Institute’s Science in Parallel podcast.
Image credit: MIT